by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 28th 2008 1:35am
Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about a rather confusing legal decision that came out of Finland that said that no laws were broken in showing how to circumvent the notoriously weak CSS encryption scheme found on DVDs. The reasoning was that there was nothing wrong with breaking an encryption scheme if it was "ineffective." Of course, that opens up all sorts of questions. If it's illegal to crack DRM that is effective, but the only way to prove that it's ineffective is to crack it... then, what happens? And, of course, once the encryption is cracked, haven't you then automatically shown that it's ineffective, thereby making it okay -- even if it was effective until you cracked it? The mind boggles. Apparently, it was equally mind boggling for a Finnish appeals court who has overturned the ruling. That said, the new ruling is still problematic. It still seems troublesome that anyone could be found to have broken the law for merely explaining how to circumvent a copy protection scheme. That holding leads to obviously bad outcomes. Anti-circumvention clauses are really dangerous restrictions on free speech, trying to criminalize the explanation of how to do something that's potentially infringing, rather than the infringement itself. It's a crutch relied on by the content industry that still can't come to terms with the fact that copy protection isn't a good idea. But rather than deal with that via business model changes, it simply passes laws that tries to stop people from doing anything the industry doesn't like.
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